Tag Archives: Canada

Hello From the Other Side

Hello, again!

Since the last time I posted, my hubby & daughter & cat & I have moved to a new place in an area of Winnipeg that we just love. It has beautiful trees everywhere, old character houses, we’re close to the Assiniboine River, and a library and a thrift store, and delicious restaurants (Charisma of India has amazing Indian food, Decadence Chocolates has the best handmade chocolate (and spicy chocolate-covered salted hazelnuts & almonds!) I have tasted in the entire city, and we live just around the corner from Boon Burger, an all-vegan burger restaurant we are dying to try).

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Left to Right: ??? chocolate which turned out to be filled with Chai ganache & Coffee-flavoured chocolate from Decadence Chocolates

I am a huge supporter of small businesses, and that is especially easy to do in a neighbourhood with so much talent, so much flavour, so much care to the excellence of whatever craft it is that someone decides to pursue. Another place I recommend, that I really want to visit more, is Hollow Reed, where natural ingredients and remedies are not only sold, but actively harvested. This place also offers classes on recognizing and harvesting the healing crops native to our province, and how to use them, something I am very interested in investing in in the future.

It’s a great neighbourhood to be in, and I’m so glad Ivy can grow up somewhere safer and with less crime and noise pollution than one of our previous neighbourhoods. This is it for now, but I just thought I’d update on some of the more interesting places in our neighbourhood. Oh, and best yet: our front yard is a Pokestop. So all in all, I’d say this move was good for us.

What are some of your favourite places around where you live? Please let me know in the comments! Have a great day! ❤ 🙂

 – SharaLee

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Book Review – Cycling to Asylum by Su J. Sokol

I have just spent a few months finishing up reading Cycling to Asylum by Su J. Sokol, and today I finally finished it. I have to say, the title seemed to provoke more interest and intrigue than the content provided. I enjoyed the character of Laek, a free-thinking teacher from New York in what could conceivably be called a near-future dystopian period, but I absolutely disliked his wife and his two children, basically because Sokol stops at crucial junctions in the story to do a chapter on every single person in the family and their point of view on the same event, which could have been consolidated instead of making the reader read laboriously through the same event four times. If each character was to have his or her own chapter, I would have preferred for that chapter to carry the story a little further, but in this book that just simply didn’t happen. The parents moved much of the story along, the sister a little bit, and the youngest child’s chapters were all completely unnecessary.

That said, I do enjoy a certain sense of national pride when I read this book – that Canada is where people go to find hope and a new life (this publishing house publishes several Canadian-based works, so I expected nothing less from them). They leave New York to get away from violence and terrorist groups to find a new life and hope in Montreal. I enjoyed Sokol’s accurate use of the intermix of English and French that characterizes much Canadian speech, especially in Quebec, and I thought the mood of a Canadian city in winter was captured best of all. Also, I enjoyed the sexual/relational freedom Laek and his wife Janie enjoy in their marriage, as their relationship with Philip seems to represent a bridge between the bad parts of the U.S. they are leaving behind and the good memories they made there.

All in all, I give this book a solid 3 out of 5 stars, for an interesting storyline, but no more than 3, for taking too long to reach a climax and the staunch formulaic nature of the manuscript.


Book Review – Palawan Story by Caroline Vu

Palawan Story

Yesterday marked my 1-year anniversary blogging on WordPress (yay, go me, and thank you all for reading and following along my book journey!), and today marks the first book review written in my new home in the Northwest Territories.

Today’s book is called Palawan Story, and it’s about the raw and tumultuous life of Vietnamese refugee Kim Nguyen, who escaped the aftermath of the Soviet takeover of Hue at the end of the Vietnam War to forge a new identity in the United States, and eventually, Canada. Palawan is the Filipino refugee camp where that identity is forged, and where her heart blossoms into what she will someday become. It is also about the lies we tell ourselves and one another, just to survive, whether with our very lives, or merely in society. It is a story of forgiveness. Boiled down, Palawan Story is in some ways, everyone’s story. No one is fully innocent, no one is fully guilty. We are what we choose to make of ourselves, and for Kim that sometimes means being more practical than ethical. The story of society in one turbulent nutshell.

I found this book intriguing, hard to put down, and entirely believable. It was very true to the human consciousness – willing or not, we often choose to forget the things that have harmed us, or choose to ignore the fact that our choices may hurt someone else. In some ways, Kim’s success through all she’s been through can be seen as a triumph, in some ways she reminds me of the ruthlessness humanity can lend itself to in its less than shining moments. As a protagonist, Kim is in every way human, for better or for worse, entirely relatable, and endearing despite her flaws.

For excellent realism, good research, and accurate exploration of the many differing cultures connected to the Vietnam War, I give this book 4 stars out of 5.


Update from Tulita

Hello, everyone! We have moved and are starting to get settled in our new home in Tulita, Northwest Territories. Canada is such a vast land and so full of diverse climates and ecosystems. Sometimes it’s truly breathtaking! Here is a picture of how beautiful it is here. This was just taken right out my front window, no filter or anything, at sunrise. Absolutely beautiful:

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In other news, my darling kitty, Willow, has passed away. She got some kind of pneumonia, and she died peacefully and loved in my arms the day after Halloween. We are looking into adopting a new cat (or cats), but Willow will always have a special place in our hearts. ❤

And finally, my final piece of news: I was featured on Clancy Tucker’s Blog today as his Guest Book Reviewer! If you’re interested in his blog (it’s very interesting, featuring artists/authors/thinkers/athletes of note, as well as those starting out like myself) or in the interview, click the hotlink above and check it out! I’ve been pretty busy potty-training Ivy and setting up house, but I’m still almost done Palawan Story by Caroline Vu, so expect a review on that coming out soon.

As always, peace out and happy reading! ❤


We Are Moving – Again!

 

Tulita, NWT

 
That’s right, everybody! Graham and I are moving again! This time, we are moving 2,345 km (or 1,457 m) northwest from our current hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba to the small hamlet of Tulita in the Northwest Territories. Graham got a job with the North West Company at a Northern Store up there, and we couldn’t be more excited to start this new chapter in our lives! It’s going to take a little while before we get things settled (the official move date is October 20th – I have so much to do!), but I promise we will do our best to keep the blog up and running as usual. 

We look forward to taking Ivy on her first plane trip, though of course we’re slightly terrified by the possibility that she may just lose her shit. But she loves watching airplanes, so we’re hoping she’ll love being in one just as much (knock on wood)! We’re bringing Willow with us, and I found a really comfy and warm carseat liner from when Ivy was just an itty bitty newborn winter baby that we’ll be lining her kennel with, so at least she’ll be comfortable.

Honestly, I can NOT wait to leave the hustle and bustle of the city. We live on the junction of Maryland Street and St. Matthew’s Avenue here, where inner city crime is generally at its height, and I am so pleased that we will no longer have to bear multiple emergency vehicle sirens in the middle of the night, or several fire alarms in our building due to faulty installation or the crazy noise of upstairs neighbours with twins plus one, since our new home is a side-by-side in a quiet bush town full of bears and foxes (I am not kidding) where we will get 20 hours of night in the middle of winter and light all the time in the middle of summer. Yes, the bugs will be bad. But I think this move will be good for all of us. I think it will help me clear my head. I think it will be good for my writing. I can’t wait to share my adventures with all of you (and of course keep reviewing the books on my list) as we make this wonderful change in our lives.

Love you all, and happy reading!   ❤ ❤ ❤   

 – SharaLee Podolecki


Book Review – ‘Gothic Art Now’ compiled by Jasmine Becket-Griffith

As the name suggests, Gothic Art Now (published in 2008), brings together several genres of current Gothic art in a book full of death and decay, melancholia and madness – for those who love every minute of it. To be honest, I felt the works represented seemed somewhat limited (I felt there should have been a wider variety of artists represented – too many of them had more than three entries in the anthology, and anyone who has ever been on DeviantArt will tell you that there is no shortage of artists just as, if not even more, talented as those represented in the book, even in 2008). I also felt the heavy heavy reliance on Adobe Photoshop in nearly every single one of the pieces was a tad disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, I understand Photoshop takes great skill to master and to create with, but a bit more variety in methods of creating would have been nice. Categories were divided into eight different kinds of new Gothic art: Femmes Fatales, Men in Black, Gothic Elegance, Industrial Goth, Lurking Horror, Dark Fantasy, Creepy Creations, and Grim Comics. The cover photo (‘Autumn Has Come’ by Natalia Peirandrei, done with markers and watercolours on watercolour paper), was one of my favourites, as well as the pieces showcased below. Overall, some very great thought-provoking pieces, and interesting read, and I give it a hearty 3 out of 5 stars.

Some of my Faves

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‘Semaphore’ by Steven Kenny, done in oil on linen.

I think she looks a little like breelark here with her long braid.

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‘Black Roses and Bite Marks’ by Tom Lavelle, done in pencil, digitally painted.

Like a mix of Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe if they ever became vampiresses!

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‘Stick Girl’ by Gus Fink, using mixed media.

I love the weird additions to an already slightly-creepy vintage photograph. Reminded me very much of the weird photographs in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs.

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‘Marco’ by Jessica Joslin, sculpture.

Because let’s face it, organ-grinder monkeys kind of look like this anyway. And this one won’t steal your money. ;P

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‘Trick’ by Krisgoat, a digital painting.

And last but not least, the adorable Trick, who has a sweeter sister (not included in the book) named Treat – she can be found here.

So there you have it! This was a great find at Value Village, and a lot of fun to look through. Recommended library reading or used-book purchase, if you’re interested in the darker side of art. If you are looking to buy something, however, I would recommend going to your local Indigo/Chapters/Coles outlet (or for those of you in the States, something like Barnes & Noble) and finding something with a bit more variety and more of an exploration of technique, etc.

Peace out and stay creepy! >^.^<


Amazon Package! (February 12, 2015)

What could it be??? Watch and see!
(Yes, she has a terrible haircut, but she was 14 months old and I did it myself. So there you go.)


‘The Hero of Blind Pig Island and Other Island Stories’ by Jimmy Olsen (December 14th, 2014)

Reposted from LiveJournal:

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Jimmy Olsen has done it again! Through his anthology, The Hero of Blind Pig Island and Other Island Stories (a medium more difficult to properly utilize than it seems), the reader gets an accurate glimpse into the outlook of a middle-class North American man, having lived and worked in the Caribbean, with startling clarity. Having spent some time out of my own North American country myself, I thought Olsen very skilfully captured the amalgamation of often confusing thoughts and feelings one harbours regarding one’s home country. It becomes both idealized and irrelevant when away, and the same happens to the country visited upon return ‘home’. One becomes neither a citizen of the United States or the Dominican Republic (Canada or South Korea, in my case), but somehow a visitor and citizen of both. One has become, rather, a citizen of the world. There is a global universality to the tone in these stories that is made somehow clearer by the emphasis on the commonality of human attitude no matter the city, country, or hemisphere.

I enjoyed the emphasis on how deadly the sea can be to those who are not wise enough or interested enough to learn, with the full knowledge that in winter, the prairie (where I come from and where the voice of the piece seems to hail from as well) can be just as deadly. I could see that these stories were drawn even more closely from the author’s own life than his previous book, Poison Makers, and having read that book, was fascinated at the similarity of its main character to that of Clive, the English teacher from Minnesota, who appears frequently in several short stories throughout the book. Both of them are clearly reflections of the author himself, whose writing I have come to consider some of my favourite amongst my entire library.

There were a few annoying spelling and sentence structure errors, and my main beef with the piece was its organization of stories, which I found ended up leaving the reader with a lot of heavy at the end of the anthology. Personal preference would dictate that the title piece be last, simply for its lighter ending, but the theme of respect for the forces of nature and for Death itself is indeed reinforced in ‘Wet Passage’, the final story, so it could have been intentional. Taking that into consideration, I still wasn’t convinced that the final story truly encompassed the message of the work as I would have preferred in a mixed piece like this. My favourite story of them all was ‘Denise,’ the twist at the end of that story being so unexpected, I ended up thinking about it for two days afterward. Possibly my favourite part of this book is the barefaced honesty Olsen uses in his portrayal of family and acquaintances – all of whom are most definitely not perfect. It is the fearlessness in his writing that makes this book so real and so endearing.

I hope someday to be able to write with such clarity and unassuming honesty as Olsen does, to truly capture the human spirit (or at least freely share mine with my readers), as he does. This is the third of Olsen’s works I have experienced, and he has become one of my favourite authors. I highly recommend anything written by him. I give The Hero of Blind Pig Island 4 out of 5 stars for the book itself, but 5 stars for his work in general. Mr. Olsen, you write good books!